Thursday, April 13, 2017

What's for Dinner Wednesday~Chicken with Pepperoni-Marinara Sauce

Hello everyone!  It feels good to get back to cooking and blogging.  We continue to be blessed by all of your sweet emails and messages being sent our way.

This is such an easy recipe to prepare, and perfect for a busy weeknight.  Kid friendly too!

Chicken with Pepperoni-Marinara Sauce
(Cooking Light Ultimate Chicken Cookbook 2012

We have adapted this recipe to be gluten free, dairy free and soy free.


Cooking spray (we prefer coconut oil spray)
1/2 tsp minced fresh garlic (we ALWAYS keep a jar on hand)
16 slices pepperoni, coarsely chopped (we use Hormel naturals)
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 cups marinara sauce (we prefer Nello's brand)
2 TBS chopped fresh basil (already in our garden)
2 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 pounds chicken cutlets (we used breasts and just pounded until thin)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper (we use white as I cannot have black)
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (we used Follow Your Heart Vegan and shredded ourselves)

1. Preheat broiler to high.

2. Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add garlic and pepperoni; cook 2 minutes or until garlic begins to brown, stirring frequently. Add oregano; cook 30 seconds. Add marinara sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in basil.

3. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Sprinkle chicken with pepper.  Add chicken to pan; cook 5 minutes or until lightly browned, turning after 3 minutes.  Spoon sauce over chicken; sprinkle evenly with cheese.  Broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts.

We served with simple mixed greens and Italian dressing.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

What Makes Me Happy~

Good Wednesday morning everyone!

I wanted to first off thank you, my sweet friends and readers, for all of your heartfelt comments and emails regarding the recent loss of my Mother In Law, Ruth.  We can't possibly express how much your love and prayers have meant to us during this difficult time.  

In lieu of a What's for Dinner Wednesday post (which I hope to resume next week), I am guest posting over at my dear friend Ron's blog, Uptown Acorn, for his What Makes Me Happy Series. Because let's face it, everyone needs a little happiness in their lives.  And, I know my sweet MIL wouldn't want us to be sad.  She lived life to the fullest, and found joy in even the simplest of things.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Saying Goodbye to Mom~

It is with an extremely heavy heart, and through tears,  that I write this post.  As many of you know, my precious MIL fell ill two weeks ago.  God called her home on March 18, 2017.

She was 98 1/2 years young, and the most amazing woman I have ever had the privilege of knowing. She was part of the greatest generation that has ever lived.  She had seen it all, yet remained positive until the end.  She was never one to complain, rather look for the good in everything and everyone. I remember always asking her when I'd call, "Mom, how are you doing?" and she would reply with a little chuckle in her voice, "Better than the alternative."  She set a beautiful example of what a daughter, wife, mother, sister, aunt and grandmother should be.  God was always first, and her best friend.  Something that didn't go unnoticed by her best friend, as she recommended that one of the hymns for Mom's service be What a Friend We Have in Jesus.  She did indeed call Jesus her friend, and knew she could count on Him to see her through anything that came her way.

Reverend Trosien preached a beautiful sermon from Malachi 3:16-17, "God's completed Gem".

The Faithful Remnant

"Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of rememberance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name. On the day when I act, says the Lord Almighty, they will be my treasured possession.  I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him."

Mom, you were a gem to all who had the privilege of knowing you and you will be greatly missed.

And because she wouldn't want us to be sad, I'll end with a funny story...

My FIL always called her the "boss".  When we asked a question of him, he would reply, "go ask the boss." (jokingly, of course)

When mom passed from this broken world and arrived in heaven, we could just hear sweet dad..."Oh Lord, the boss is back!"

To which she would reply, "Would anyone like some coffee and dessert?"

Ruth Eleanor
August 28, 1918-March 18, 2017

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Checking In~Prayers Needed

I realized not all of my blogging friends follow me on Instagram and Facebook, so I wanted to check in here and let you know where I've been and to ask for prayer.

Many of you know my sweet MIL is 98 years old.  Up until late Sunday evening, she was still living in her own home. Remarkable!  She does have an amazing caregiver who looks in on her daily, and has truly been (and continues to be) a godsend to us. She lives in Michigan, we are in Georgia.  Other than age related dementia, she was in amazing health given her age.

Sunday evening we received a call from her caregiver that mom was not well.  In fact, she felt she may not make it through the night.  She was fading fast.  The decision at the time was made to keep mom at home, as transporting her in the frigid weather would only makes matters worse.  A dear friend was with her as well.  Her caregiver ran home to collect her things so she could spend the night with her at the house.  When she returned home, she and mom's dear friend felt she had had a stroke as she was having difficulty with her left arm and leg. At that time all were in agreement that she needed to be transported to the hospital.

The ambulance arrived, and true to form, mom's feisty German side reared its head and she fought tooth and nail.  She was alert and telling my husband there was no need for her to go to the hospital. A sign she was still very much with us.

She was admitted to the hospital (after doctors initially considered transferring her to the larger hospital down south for cardiac care).  We were told she had suffered a mild heart attack, and most likely a stroke (it did not show up on the CT scan).  She was started on heart medication.  She had her ups and downs. The decision was made to transport her to a skilled nursing facility near by for rehabilitation (however, it was clear to us she would not be able to return home long term).  She was transported late yesterday afternoon.  We had the chance to speak with her, and while confused and upset as to why she was there and once again wanting to go home, she was getting a little stronger.

This morning, just before one AM we received the call we prayed we would never get...she had attempted to get out of bed and had fallen.  She broke her femur just below her hip joint.  They were transporting her to the hospital.

She was see by an orthopaedist, who set the break.  She was then transported back to the nursing facility early this morning and placed in hospice care. While being medicated, she has had moments where she is awake and able to carry on a conversation.  So we have been able to talk with her. Her precious caregiver has been with her as well as her dearest friend. At this time, the goal is to keep her comfortable.

I know many of you are prayer warriors, and we would so appreciate those prayers for her and for us, and for her caregiver who truly is an angel.

We are in the midst of making arrangements to be with her.  Please pray for travel mercies as well.

I will be away from the blog for as long as needed, and to be with my family.

Much love and thanks, Lauren

Friday, March 10, 2017

TGIF~DIY Industrial Shelves Addition

Hello friends!  Gosh, this week sure did fly by.  I have been busy keeping up with a now VERY active Golden Retriever, a.k.a. HENLEY!!  He really is a joy.

Today I thought I would share our new industrial shelves that we diy'd for a corner in our kitchen. We used to have a chalkboard hanging on that wall, but since we already had another chalkboard area on the side of our refrigerator cabinet we decided two weren't necessary.

I love the extra storage the shelves provide, while also being decorative.  I got the idea from Suzy of Worthing Court.  You can read her DIY tutorial here.  The only thing I will add is that we had an issue with one of the pipes not being level once screwed into the flange.  Of course, this will make the shelf not level when placing it on the pipe brackets.  We ended up purchasing another set, and checked all for level on a flat surface using a small magnetic level we had on hand prior to installing.  I used Rustoleum's hammered metal spray paint in black to paint the metal parts.  As Suzy mentions in her tutorial, be sure to wash all metal parts in soapy water to remove all the grease before painting them.

The before, from Christmas:

And the afters:

This picture shows you where the corner is located.  It's a small wall just inside our french doors that lead to our back porch.  The opening on the left leads to our family room.

I love that with just a few simple changes, I can decorate them for different holidays.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.  Was a stormy morning, but the sun is shining brightly now.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Simply Saturday~

Loved the book, cannot wait to see the movie, but THIS song...

to my girls,

Friday, March 3, 2017

TGIF Dinner Addition~Fall Off the Bone Slow Cooker Ribs

TGIF y'all.

Today I am sharing with you a SUPER easy, yet oh so yummy recipe.  We love ribs.  Especially hubby's slow cooked dry rubbed ribs he cooks in the summertime.  But, sometimes you crave that same taste yet don't won't to put in the time and effort.  These slow cooker ribs are a very close second.

Fall Off the Bone Slow Cooker Ribs

About 3 pounds baby back ribs (this can be doubled to feed more, just double your liquids too)
rib rub (we used Famous Dave's as it is allergy friendly)
1/2 C apple cider vinegar
1/3 C soy sauce (we used liquid aminos, gluten free/soy free
1 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
barbecue sauce (of choice) (we used a mix of hot and regular Bone Suckin' Sauce)


1. Trim the ribs and cut the rack into 4 sections.  Rub the ribs generously with your favorite rib rub. If you don't have a rib rub, salt, pepper, and garlic powder will work just fine. Allowing the ribs to sit in the refrigerator a while (even overnight, which is what we did) will add more flavor, but it isn't required.

2. Mix the vinegar, soy sauce, and liquid smoke together and pour it into the bottom of the slow cooker. Add the rib sections (meat side down), spreading them around the bowl of the slow cooker. Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours, or until tender and you can see the meat separating from the bone.

3. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Coat the ribs with the barbecue sauce and grill for 15 minutes, turning once, or until the barbecue sauce is charred a bit. (we used the broiler instead)

We served with a side of baked beans.

The original recipe can be found here.

And, you know I couldn't leave you without another Henley update...

Week 1-approx. 11 lbs, Week 2-approx. 14 lbs, Week 3-16 lbs and still growing!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

What's for Dinner Wednesday~Cast-Iron Burgers and Fries

This recipe comes from one of my very first Gluten Free Cookbooks, The Cooking Light Gluten Free Cookbook.  I love that there are several recipes that are dairy free as well now that #2 and I can no longer eat/drink dairy (me-Cow's milk products, she-all animal milk).

Cast Iron Burgers and Fries

1 lb ground sirloin (we use grass fed beef)
1/4 tsp kosher salt (we use sea salt)

Horseradish Spread:
1 TBS canola mayonnaise (we use Follow Your Heart Vegan Mayo-Dairy and Soy Free)
1 TBS Dijon Mustard
1 TBS prepared horseradish
2 tsp ketchup

2 applewood-smoked bacon slices, chopped (we used the Hormel Natural Bacon-GF we had on hand)
3 C vertically sliced yellow onion (we use our mandolin for this)
1 TBS finely chopped fresh chives
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (check for GF)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper (we use white as I cannot have black)

Remaining Ingredients:
Cooking spray (we prefer coconut oil)
4 (2.8 ounce) gluten-free hamburger buns, toasted (we use Pure Knead buns-free of top 8 allergens as #2 cannot have eggs, found at our local Kroger)
4 green leaf lettuce leaves
4 (1/4 inch thick) slices tomato

*we omitted the lettuce and tomato (the onion/bacon mixture is plenty)

To Prepare:

1. To prepare the patties, divide beef into 4 portions, lightly shaping each into a 1/2-inch thick patty.  Sprinkle evenly with salt. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.
2. To prepare horseradish spread, combine mayonaise and next 3 ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
3. To prepare the relish, cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan. Add onion to drippings in pan; cook 15 minutes or until golden brown. Combine bacon, onion mixture, chives, Worcestershire sauce, and pepper in a small bowl.
4. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add patties; cook 2 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Spread 1 1/2 teaspoons horseradish spread on cut side of each bun half. Top bottom half of each bun with 1 lettuce leaf, 1 tomato slice, 1 patty, 1/4 cup relish,and top half of bun.

We served good old OreIda seasoned fries (gluten free).

Friday, February 24, 2017

TGIF~Dinner Addition

Hello, hello!  TGIF.

  I had planned to get a few more posts up this week, but in keeping up with a 9 week old puppy (who has learned that stairs are fun and making Gigi chase him up them is even more entertaining) and getting a few projects wrapped up (which I hope to share next week) it didn't happen.

He's down for his morning nap, so I thought I'd pop in and share a yummy recipe we made last night. How many of you remember the good old box of Hamburger Helper?  I personally was not a huge fan of it growing up, but hubby was so I knew he would love this recipe.  This gluten free, dairy free, healthier version is so much better than the boxed variety I remember eating many a weeknight growing up.  #2 approved too.  And the best part, one pot!

Homemade Hamburger Helper

1 lb ground beef (we prefer grass fed)
1 C onion, diced
1 tsp each paprika, parsley, oregano, garlic powder, salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp tomato paste for extra flavor (optional), you can also add a bit of hot chili sauce if you'd like
1 1/2 C beef broth (we use Pacific brand)
2 1/3 C gluten free noodles (we use Tinkiyada spirals, can be purchased at Whole Foods)
1 C cheddar cheese (we use Daiya Cheddar Shreds, Follow Your Heart is good too)
1-2 tsp gluten-free Worcestershire sauce


1. Preheat a 10 inch skillet with a tight fitting lid over medium heat.
2. Add in your ground beef and diced onion, brown.
3. Add in all the spices.
4. Stir in the liquids and noodles.
5. Bring to a gentle simmer, cover, and turn the heat to low.
6. Simmer about 10-15 minutes until the noodles are tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
7. Remove from the heat, vent the lid, and let rest to absorb the remaining liquid for about 5 minutes.
8. Stir in the cheese and Worcestershire, taste, add more salt if necessary.


Original recipe can be found here.

And now I will leave you will a whole lot of cuteness...

Left: Week One Right: Week Two

Hanging out in my toy basket.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Motivational Monday~

Hello friends.  Is it just me or is 2017 off to a very fast paced start?  I mean, it's already February 20th.  Weren't we just celebrating the New Year???

Today I thought I'd share what I am currently reading, as it fits the "motivational" category.  My #2 gifted this book to me for Christmas, as she knows I love the two other books I have read written by Shauna.

Below is a brief summary from Barnes and Noble.

Returning to the theme of decluttering everyday life and concentrating on what is truly important, Niequist (Savor) weaves together a series of essays concerning her personal experiences overcoming a life overwrought with busyness, stress, and feelings of inadequacy. After years of frantic living, Niequist has come to the realization that she’s missing out on the beauty of everyday life with her husband and children—that it will all speed past her if she doesn’t slow down and simplify, learn how to say no to demands on her time, and stop worrying about others’ opinions of her. “Present over perfect living is real over image, connecting over comparing, meaning over mania, depth over artifice,” she writes, explaining along the way that she’s found a new “strength” in embracing quiet surroundings and in spending time alone. To emphasize her points, she quotes Scripture, but does so sparingly and intentionally—more often than not, her included references to her faith are intended only to bolster her own experiences of mindful living. Her style is conversational, friendly, inviting, and never heavy-handed, making the book accessible to people of all faiths. Women will find the advice hits closest to home. Niequist’s latest book is her most satisfying blend of mindfulness, scripture, and self-help to date, offering readers the blueprint for a life lived in the real instead of the ideal. 

I am thoroughly enjoying the book.  

Two others I recommend:

This is a great book with stories of shared meals around the table, and includes some wonderful recipes.

And, I love this devotional book by Shauna as well.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Dish It Up Sunday~Ribeye Nuggets with Jalapeno Pesto

Hi Everyone!  Today I am sharing a dish we originally prepared and shared back in 2014.  We made the dish again this past week and since many on IG inquired about it, I thought it was worth sharing again.  This time around we served it with a side of fire roasted corn.


This past weekend I picked up a new Paleo cookbook.  I loved that most recipes could be prepped ahead or made use of a slow cooker.

Make Ahead Paleo by Tammy Credicott (we found our copy at Barnes and Noble).

Last night we decided to give our first recipe a go.  Ribeye Nuggets with Jalapeno Pesto. The fact that it was St. Patrick's Day, the Jalapeno Pesto's vibrant green color was perfect for the occasion.  And, we decided to serve it with a side steak fries.  Our family is the furthest thing from Irish (we are Polish and German, with a dash of Danish and Scandinavian).

We prepped and made ours same  day, but you can prep ahead.

Container #1

4 ribeye steaks, cut into bite-sized pieces

Container #2
2 TBSP coconut oil (we substituted with olive oil as I cannot have coconut)

Container #3

1/2 C roasted, unsalted macadamia nuts
1 C packed fresh parsley
1/3 C packed cilantro leaves
1 small shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 jalapenos, cored, seeded, and chopped
1 TBSP lime juice
3/4 C olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For Serving Day

Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Serves 4

Prep Day:

1. Place the steak pieces and coconut oil in separate airtight containers (#1 and #2).

2.  In a food processor, puree the pesto ingredients until smooth.  Add more olive oil if needed to get the consistency you like. (we used our Vitamix)

3. Spoon the pesto into airtight container #3.

4. Store the containers in the refrigerator or a cooler until ready to use.

Serving Day:

1. In an electric skillet set to medium-high heat, heat the coconut oil.

2. When the oil is hot, add the steak pieces to the skillet.  Season the steak with sea salt and pepper, and cook until it has browned on all sides but is still pink inside, about 5 minutes.

3. Serve the steak with the pesto drizzled on top. (we served on the side in a ramekin)

Again, we prepared ours same day.  But, I love that the recipes can be prepped ahead of time.  Perfect for busy family weeknights.

So yummy, and easy to prepare.  Looking forward to trying more recipes from the cookbook.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Thoughts on Thursday~Puppy Addition

Hello friends!  I took a couple days off this week to focus on our new addition.  If you missed the big news you can read about it here. 

Henley is adjusting quite nicely, and is already fast friends with our Cairn Terrier, Kylee.  She does a great job of wearing him out for his nap times!!

Mom and GiGi are adjusting too.  Early mornings call for lots of coffee!

Trust me when I say having a puppy is like having a baby...only difference, no labor pains! Sometimes I think having a baby is easier...I mean, you can put a diaper on them and take them anywhere ;-)

So with that, I thought I'd share a little puppy humor with you today.

Lots and Lots of Coffee!

He hasn't tried it yet, but just yesterday learned we have stairs!  He can go up, but can't get back down.

Potty training is always fun said no parent of a human or canine baby ever!!!


That face makes is all worthwhile!

This would be us today...

Happy Thursday Friends!!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Dish It Up Sunday~Sweetness Addition

Hello friends!

Today we are dishing up a whole lot of sweetness along with a whole lot of cuteness...

Those of you who follow along on Instagram got a glimpse of our newest addition yesterday.

Meet Henley, our new grandpuppy (#2 is his mommy).  He is a 7 and a half week old Golden Retriever puppy who joined our family yesterday.

He has the sweetest, most soulful brown eyes (main reason I think #2 picked him out of the bunch). He's already settling in and our "princess", Kylee, seems to be quite smitten with him (it's only the 2nd day, but here's hoping they become fast friends).

His first car ride...once we hit the highway he slept the ENTIRE time, not a peep!

They are already smitten with each other.  (We called him the grumpy old man before she picked him out because in all the pictures the breeder posted he had a furrowed brow and an uncertain look).

He's already choosing his favorites.

Have a blessed week friends.  You can find me loving on this fluff ball!!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Simply Saturday~

Tune in later today to find out...

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Thoughts On Thursday~

Deep, I know.

How many times have you found yourself or someone you love struggling to "fit in" or "succeed" only to feel like a wall flower or failure?

Did it ever occur to either of you that maybe it's not about the "person" but rather the environment or situation they are in?

We are all uniquely created as "individuals", therefore we all serve different purposes in this life. While one is a master in mathematics (not me), others are science oriented (not me either), others have the gift of compassion (I'd like to think so) or are gifted in technology (umm...let's not talk about that)...and the list goes on and on, we all have unique talents gifted to us by our creator.  The world would be a very boring place if we were all in ONE CAMP.  Think of seeing the world all in one color...your favorite or otherwise.  BORING!

So, if you are feeling a bit "out of sorts" or like you "don't quite fit the mold"...change things up, do what makes YOU happy! At the end of the day, feel comfortable in you own skin.

Have a blessed day sweet friends.  And more importantly, BE YOU!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

What's For Dinner Wednesday~Bolognese Pasta

Today I am sharing with you a hearty Italian dish.  The sauce is flavorful, and the recipe makes enough to feed a hungry crowd (or to have plenty of leftovers for lunch the following day).

Bolognese Sauce


4 TBS extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 oz pancetta, diced
1/2 C dried porcini, soaked, drained and chopped (we omitted as hubby and #2 detest mushrooms)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 celery stalk, finely diced
1 lb ground pork
1 lb extra-lean ground beef
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste (we use white)
4 TBS tomato paste
1 1/2 C red wine
2 C low-sodium chicken stock (we use Kitchen Basics)
1 large can San Marzano crushed tomatoes (28oz) *we couldn't find them already crushed, so we purchased whole and crushed with a potato masher)
4 tsp chopped fresh basil, plus torn leaves for garnish is desired
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
1-2 pounds of your favorite pasta (we used penne, fine pasta such as spaghetti or angel hair won't stand up to the heavy sauce)
Pecorino Romano cheese, for garnish (we used Follow Your Heart Shredded Parm for a dairy free option)


1. Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat.  Add the pancetta, porcini, garlic, onions, carrots and celery.   Cook 6-7 minutes, or until lightly browned, stirring frequently so the vegetables don't burn or stick.  Deglaze the pan with a 1/2 cup of red wine.
2. Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a dutch oven set over medium-high heat.  Add the ground meat and cook for approximately 10 minutes, stirring frequently so the meat browns evenly. Salt and pepper liberally.  Then, add the tomato paste and saute for 2 minutes.
3. Next, add the vegetables and pancetta to the pot with the meat.  Then, add the remaining 1 cup red wine to deglaze the pot.  Scrape all the bits and pieces that might accumulate and reduce by half, about 5 minutes. Then, add the chicken stock and crushed tomatoes and simmer very gently for 1.5 hours or until the liquid is absorbed.
4. Adjust seasonings to taste (you can add a bit more salt and pepper at this point).  Finish the sauce with the chopped basil and thyme.
5. You have two options for serving: (1) You can add the cooked pasta and 1/2 cup pasta water directly to the pot of bolognese sauce and simmer for 2 minutes to incorporate the sauce into the pasta or (2) You can add the pasta to a plate and spoon the sauce on top of the pasta (how we chose to serve).
6. Garnish with the Pecorino Romano cheese (optional), torn basil and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil on top.

* You will notice in the photo above that the pasta is "mixed", that's what happens when you are trying to use up what you have and want leftovers for lunches ;-)

Bon Appetit!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Motiviational Monday~

Tough loss for our Atlanta Falcons last night.  Congratulations to the New England Patriots, and to Tom Brady for an outstanding game.

I think we can all agree, that whether you win or lose at something, there is always something you can learn from the experience.

It's how you chose to handle the loss that can make all the difference however.

Have a blessed week friends.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Dish It Up Sunday~

For today's menu, we are serving up another "Dirty Bird" recipe...

Atlanta Falcon's Style!


The Atlanta Falcons
The New England Patriots


1. Tune in to the pre-game show at 11:00 am on Fox TV.
2. Prepare game day munchies 11:00 am-5:30 pm. Don't forget to pick up the chicken wings!!
3. Grab a plate and refill your drinks (admit it, you've already started ;-) and claim your spot in front of the big screen tv by 6:00 pm.
4.  6:30 pm Kick Off
5.  Prepare to spend the next 3 hours and 12 minutes cheering on your favorite team, throwing things at the TV, wishing you could strangle a ref or two...and praying that this year brings no wardrobe malfunctions during the half time show!
6. Pray your team won or you'll be hearing about it for the next 12 months!!

Have a fun filled day friends!!

Simply Saturday~

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Thoughts on Thursday~

First, I want to say a huge Thank You to all my cheerleaders (either fellow bloggers or IG followers) who have encouraged me the past couple weeks as we tackled some major painting projects in our home.  Both the fireplace surround and the media center are done.  I was advised to let the paint cure for a few days before placing shelves back in and decorating, so that is where we are currently at. I also am editing some decor and making some changes.  I have learned not to rush things over the years because it usually only leads to regret.

I thought I'd share a quote I recently came across while browsing Pinterest.  While waiting for paint to dry one has a bit of extra time. LOL

The older I get the more I find myself thinking about this.  And, my pastor recently preached about leaving a legacy.  What do we want to be remembered for?

I would hope that others remember me for the way I treated them, hopefully with the upmost love, affection and kindness, and that more than anything I was bold enough to share my faith with them and point them to my Heavenly Father. Two of my very favorite songs are Legacy by Nicole Nordeman and I Want to Live Like That (my ringtone) by Sidewalk Prophets.

I honestly believe in the end no one is going to remember what clothes I wore, what latest pair of booties were on my feet, the color of my walls and the list goes on.  At least I hope that isn't the case. Because if I am being honest, I missed the mark if that is the case.

Something to ponder on this Thursday.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

What's For Dinner Wednesday~

Hello my friends.  Been a busy week here at our homestead.  The painters arrived early this morning to paint our media center.  We went from dark chocolate brown to white, and the difference is amazing!  So light and bright.  Will share after the paint has had time to cure and things are back in place.

This week I have another fabulous soup recipe to share with you all.  Cold evenings are perfect for a hearty warm bowl full of flavorful soup.  And, this recipe is packed with flavor.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup (Paleo and Whole 30 Approved)


1-2 lb chicken breasts (frozen or fresh, prefer fresh and organic)
2 TBS cumin
1 TBS garlic powder
1 TBS cayenne pepper (adjust to amount of heat desired, 1 TBS is SPICY)
1 tsp chili powder
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 jalepeno pepper, de-seeded and finely diced
1 (14oz) can diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 (32oz) container of chicken stock (no sugar added to make Whole 30 approved)
salt and pepper
1/4 C lime juice
tortilla trips (or plantain chips to make Whole 30 approved)


1. Place chicken breasts in the base of the slow cooker with cumin, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and chili powder and place lid on top.  Cook on high 3-4 hours.
2 After about 2 hours, take chicken breasts out and shred.  Return to the slow cooker.
3. Add in onion, garlic, red bell pepper, jalepeno pepper, diced tomatoes, and chicken stock.
4. Minutes before serving add 1/4 cup of lime juice and salt and pepper to taste.
5. Garnish with sliced avocados and plantain chips (or tortilla strips).

Original recipe can be found here.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Motivational Monday~

I am sure many of you have already heard this, but even so, it's worth listening to over and over again.

We need Him now more than ever. Amen.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Dish It Up Sunday~

Today I am sharing another yummy soup recipe.  Who doesn't enjoy a warm bowl of soup on a cold winter's evening?

French Onion soup is something we have always enjoyed, but take out the gluten and dairy, and basically take out the best part, the crusty bread and gooey cheese. Until now.

Rich French Onion Soup


3/4 C butter or expeller-pressed coconut oil (we used Earth Balance Dairy/Soy Free Butter)
3-4 large sweet onions, (Vidalia), approx. 6 cups, thinly sliced
6-10 cloves fresh garlic, minced (more or less to suit your taste, we used our good old jarred)
2 TBS. arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
1/2 C red wine
2-3 tsp dried thyme
5 large bay leaves
1 1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper (we use white since I can't have black, crazy, I know)
1/2 tsp garlic powder (the more garlic the better I say)
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 quarts organic beef stock (we use Kitchen Basics)


1. Place the butter (or coconut oil) in a large soup pot (we love our Staub Dutch oven) and add your thinly sliced onions and minced garlic.
2. Cook over medium heat, covered but stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent and starting to turn golden brown.  This will take about 10 minutes.  Careful not to let the onions burn.
3. Stir in the arrowroot powder until the onions are coated.
4. Add the red wine (hope you didn't drink it all ;-) and stir around.
5. Let the mixture cook for 3-4 minutes to burn off the alcohol (we do want this to be kid friendly).
6. Add the spices and stir.
7. Add the beef stock and bring soup to a nice simmer.
8. Reduce heat to low/medium-high and let simmer 45 minutes.
9. Remove from heat and serve.

To add back in that crusty bread with the gooey cheese, we sliced a loaf of Udi's French Bagette and toasted with sliced Follow Your Heart Provolone Cheese.

Spoon soup into individual bowls and top with two "cheesy croutons".


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Thoughts on Thursday~Late Addition

I've always been of the camp, "better late than never".  Ask my littles I've taught.  We'd be halfway through snack on a crazy day and I'd be reminded by them, "Ms. Lauren, we forgot the blessing!" Oops.  And I'd always say, "better late than never" and we would stop and pray.

So while it's already 6:30 PM here, I thought I'd still get a post out.

This quote seems appropriate given the past couple of days.  I'll share more when I post about our updated fireplace mantle. But, suffice it to say it didn't come off without a couple hiccups.

There may or may not have been times I wanted to quit.  I may have muttered things under my breath I wasn't proud of.  And, it may have taken my #2 to keep me from going into the all out ugly cry yesterday.

But, today is a new day.  And God's mercies are new each and every morning.  And sometimes we see things with fresh eyes, and well...a calmer demeanor.   Not to mention all my sweet sweet IG followers who have been my biggest cheerleaders throughout this entire process. Love y'all.

So with all that said, I want to encourage you to keep at it.  Sometimes it gets worse before it gets better.  But the end result is always worth it.  It may not always turn out the way we hoped or planned, but it does turn out the way He intended it to.

TGIF in less than 6 hours!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What's for Dinner Wednesday~Spicy Garlic Brown Rice Noodles

Happy Wednesday everyone!  Here's another simple, healthy, under 30 minute recipe for you.  I love that there are so many dietary options for this one.  Find the one that works for you.

Sticky Garlic Brown Rice Noodles


8 oz of gluten-free noodles (brown rice, quinoa noodles, zucchini noodles, etc) *we chose brown rice
3 TBS butter (or ghee, or vegan butter spread) *we used Earth Balance vegan butter
1/2 C (plus a few extra TBS for garnish) green onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, diced *we used our stand by chopped out of the jar
2 TBS of coconut sugar (or brown sugar) *we chose brown sugar
2 TBS of tamari (or soy sauce) *we used coconut aminos
Optional: 1/2 tsp oyster sauce (we omitted)


1. Boil noodles according to directions until al dente, drain, and set aside (add some butter so they don't stick together after draining).
2. Meanwhile in a saucepan over medium-high heat melt the better.
3. Add the green onions and garlic and stir for about 1 minute until fragrant.
4. Add the sugar and stir vigorously until it is completely dissolved.
5. Add tamari (or soy sauce), and mix in thoroughly.
6. Toss the noodles with the sauce, plate and garnish with fresh green onions.

Grilled Chicken
Grilled Shrimp
Mixed Veggies

Original recipe can be found here.

As most of you know, our youngest moved home just before Christmas.  When meal planning these days, we try to come up with recipes that will yield enough for leftovers for her to take for lunch the following day to work.  This fits the bill.  This recipe is easy to double.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Gluten, Dairy, Soy, Egg and Nut Free Chocolate Chip Cookies~

Popping in on this Tuesday morning to share a quick recipe with you. Confession, we are not big sweet eaters. Oh the horrors. Now with that said, we do love warm freshly baked chocolate chip cookies on occasion.  However, with our dietary restrictions the traditional recipes are a no go. That is until #2 and I decided to take the Original Nestle Toll House Cookie recipe and make it gluten, dairy, soy, egg and nut free.

Gluten, Dairy, Soy, Egg and Nut Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 Cups gluten-free all purpose flour (we love Pillsbury's, but Bob's Red Mill is also good)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 C (2 sticks) butter, softened (we use Earth Balance vegan butter sticks)
3/4 C organic granulated sugar
3/4 C organic packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract (we sub with maple syrup as I am to limit vanilla in my diet)
Egg Replacer, equivalent of 2 large eggs (we like EngerG brand best)
2 Cups Enjoy Life chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.  Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in a large mixer bowl until creamy. Add egg replacer, and beat well.  Gradually beat in flour mixture.  Stir in morsels.  Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.  Bake for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely that is if they last that long.

#1 bought me cookie scoops for Christmas, and they work like a charm.  Nice even sized cookies that bake uniform.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Motivational Monday~

As we enter into the new year, many of us have organization on our mind. I stumbled upon these quotes on Pinterest, and thought I'd share them with you all. Just a few things to ponder this week.

Happy Monday!